Rock is dead. You know it, we know it, it’s over. It was good while it lasted and we fought a good fight there, but in the end, the other side one. The side populated by the Biebers and Swifts and One Directions of the world. We’ll always have the memories, but we have to face facts, Gene Simmons was right, “Rock is finally dead.”
Or — wait for it — is it? While that seems to be the narrative espoused by rockers and their fans, as well as countless cultural critics penning endless jeremiads about how the sky is falling around all the Marshall stacks and Fender Strats that once produced timeless rock and roll, is there really any evidence for it?
Well, according to the latest data from Nielsen Music, who keep track of music sales data in the US, the heart of rock and roll is still pumping. In fact, far from being dead, the number one genre in the market is in fact rock. Though it’s been at the bottom of the pile in the past, it’s never really strayed too far.
Image via A Journal of Musical Things
Gene Simmons can protest all he wants, but the numbers are clear. Of all the albums and tracks purchased and songs streamed in the US in 2014, 29 percent of them were rock. In fact, despite the encroaching tide of the Biebers and One Directions, pop music only accounted for a mere 14.9 percent of the market, with hip-hop at 17.2 percent, followed by country at 11 percent.
Despite highly touted growth and what some would even call an increasing ubiquity, dance music and EDM accounted for the smallest amount of sales and streams at just 3.4 percent. Besides rock, 24 percent of music listeners are enjoying ‘Other’ genres. However, it’s important to note that what constitutes a given genre is up for debate.
So are the constant cries that rock is dead or dying going to go away now? Most likely, no. As A Journal of Musical Things notes, there’s an event that signals the death of the genre roughly every decade or so. In the ’50s it was Elvis joining the army; in the ’60s, Altamont; 1970s disco was also supposed to supplant rock, but it appears it will truly never die.